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And the Oscar Goes To . . .

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I love the movies. I'm sure most of you do too. I saw only two of the movies that were up for an award and that was The Help, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I still want to see War Horse, Iron Lady, The Artist, and after awards night I guess I'll see Hugo eventually. Movies spark my imagination and often fill my creative well. What I love about the Oscars is that we get a chance to see so many wonderfully creative artists in the same room. It reminds me how important art is to each of us. We may not like the same films, the same music, or the same actors and actresses, but we do enjoy creative excellence.

Music helps me create. Much of that music comes from movie soundtracks. I used to have complete silence while I was writing but in my household that didn't last long. If I try to listen to music with lyrics I get lost in the music and lose track of what I'm writing. So instrumentals and soundtracks have become favorites when I'm creating. Here's a few of my favorites: Jane Eyre (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Jack Liedbeck and Dario Marianelli (2011) Soundtrack, War Horse soundtrack by John Williams (2011), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows by Hans Zimmer (2011).

 When they showed the pictures of the many artists we lost this past year, one of them ( I missed who) said, "I'D LIKE TO THANK THE MOVIES."  Me too.

What did you like about the Oscars? Got a favorite movie? Soundtrack? 
Here's a link to The 84th Annual Academy Awards
Here's some great pics from The Governors Ball 2012/Oscars 2012  
In Memoriam Photo Gallery

Downton Abbey and the Historical Romance Writer

Monday, February 20, 2012

Did you watch the season finale of Downton Abbey Sunday evening? I spent two luxurious hours with my friends from Downton, not something I usually allow myself to do with the many other things I need to schedule to get done. In USA Today on February 17th Robert Bianco wrote, "If Downton Abbey must leave us, at least it's departing in grand style." The only thing that makes this tolerable is that it is returning for a third season and you can read about that here.

You may laugh that I refer to these characters as my friends. But there's a strange thing that happens when I sink deeply into another world; it's as if I'm right there with the characters. I'm part of the action. This is one reason it's a good thing that I write fiction because when I do, I'm right there, living out each of my characters actions in my mind, thinking their thoughts, plotting their schemes.

What can today's historical romance writer learn from Downton Abbey? Remember that:

  •  Setting is a character. We must provide enough rich detail that our settings become places that our readers want to return to again and again. Just take a look at Highclere Castle and your heart may skip a beat, or the beauty of the place may make you sigh in wonder and delight. Heaven. Simply heaven.
  • Characterization is what keeps us coming back: If we didn't care about what happened to characters in our novels then no one would read them and where's the fun in that? If you watched Downton Abbey you just had to love Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Her wit is what made me sit up and pay attention whenever she was on screen. Here is some more about characters.
  • Attention to detail is a must: None of us are perfect and we may make mistakes, but it's so very important to try and get historical detail accurate. One of the places that can make our novels shine is if we know what our characters were wearing in the time period we write about. A special detail I like to include and remembered to do so in my book, Chameleon, is let your readers know what your characters were reading. I think that's such a good way to ground readers in time. Here are some details your sure to enjoy.
  • Romance is best filled with tension: If all the love stories in Downton had no conflict then what would be the interest? Not much. But the writers know there stuff and kept me wondering what would happen next. And in case you ever doubted you must know that A Kiss Is Just A Kiss. But if you hang out with Julie Lessman for long you'll learn that a kiss is NOT just a kiss. Remember that and you'll go far. Wanting develops strong desire and tension between characters. Just watching Lady Mary and Matthew tangle with the emotions of their love for each other is a clear indication that desire is alive and well between these characters. Did you catch that kiss?
Did you watch this series? What was one of your favorite things you enjoyed while watching? Has it reminded you of anything you want to be certain to include when writing your novels? Did you have a favorite line?

What Do You Want?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What do you want? A frequent question the heart may ask. What do you want? Valentine's Day is upon us and we are filled with the spirit of letting those close to us know how much we love them.

George Eliot said, "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel  to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them." What do you hunger for?

I wrote the column for Christian Fiction On-line Magazine this month, you can read it here,  Heart Rhythms.

I love the song, Rhythm of My Heart, by Rod Stewart. A great song for Valentine's Day.

Oh, rhythm of my heart
Is beating like a drum
With the words "I Love you"
Rolling off my tongue.
No never will I roam,
For I know my place is home.
Where the ocean meets the sky,
I'll be sailing.

What is your heart crying out for this Valentine's Day?
In Matthew 20 we have a mother's request:
 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.    21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
         She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

Later in Matthew 20 two blind men have a request:

 29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”  31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
 32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
 33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened … If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

I know this is sometimes confusing for Christians and those seeking Jesus to understand. It's been confusing at times for me too.  I found an article I think will help those who have difficulty with this passage of ask, seek, and knock. Read this article Prayer Secret #5 when you have time. I think you'll like it, especially as it refers to looking for you soul mate.

Happy Valentine's Day! What would you ask for if Jesus asked you: What do you want?

Success and Such

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm feeling successful!
I've been reading a lot of blog posts and books lately about success, what it is, or what we think it is or hope it is. I used to be one of those people that had a difficult time accepting a compliment. Chock it up to not hearing many compliments as I grew up. I don't even think I knew what I was missing until I got older. This effected my personal view of success.

I've learned to accept compliments and I'm happy for them whether it's about a new haircut, new outfit, or weight loss. But it's weird now for me to accept compliments about my writing. What's that about? Maybe it's because I only have one book out and it's still kind of surreal. Maybe because I don't know if I'll be able to keep doing what I'm doing and be any good at it. We writers are a weird lot in many ways. I think a lot of us suffer from self-confidence issues.

Rachelle Gardner's Blog Post It's Not Always About The Money speaks to success and money and how we perceive what we get in the way of an advance and/or royalties. The publishing business is changing and I don't think there are many writers out there who get huge royalty payments or huge advances, but I'm sure there are some that do. Read through the comments if you have the time.
Michael Hyatt says, "The bottom line is that you have more control over your success than you may think." Read 7 Ways Successful Creatives Think Differently Than Unsuccessful Ones This is a place where I believe that positive thinking makes a huge difference. If you can foster these 7 Ways into your creative life I really don't believe you can lose no matter what happens.

James Scott Bell's post entitled, A New Definition of Writing Success begins with the sad story of a school teacher named Edith Allonby who committed suicide because her story was rejected. Jim explores getting published with income and getting published with freedom.

 And Stephen Covey's, 7 Must Read Success Lessons from Stephen Covey is another must read thought provoking post. It's his #4 that reminded me to, "“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” 

And I would add to this for my own growth to give God the glory and seek his Word. Philippians 4:13 NIV, I can do all this through him who gives me strength, has always been powerful for me as I know it has for many others, as well as James 4:10 NIV, Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

So what do you think about success? What does it mean to you personally?